Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by captcalhoun, Dec 22, 2011.
Speaking as one of the contributors, I'm glad to hear that you liked Bug Hunt.
Do green spectral trails and cravings for sugar water figure in Bug Hunt?
At any rate, I'm down to the last 30 pages of Don Quixote.
I won Bug Hunt (as well as a Alien colouring book) in a competition a few years back. Haven’t read it yet though.
Finished Don Quixote.
Probably won't begin Mr. Cox's new opus until this evening, though. Spending the day printing Christmas/Chanukah/whatever cards, editing old off-air video to DVD, and trying to get a little closer to being able to buy a 2017 Leaf, and have my sagging old rust-bucket hauled off to its final rusting place.
Oh, yes, and since this weekend is Advent II, I'll also be hanging the second batch of Christmas lights.
Jem Roberts' Fab Fools, which I've not finished yet but is good enough to talk about.
Fab Fools is a book about The Beatles, but not about them as a musical act, and chronicling the major events in Beatles history (like John meeting Paul at the Woolton fete) or their recording sessions (like how many takes of "Not Guilty" they cut before abandoning it) isn't the point here. It's a book about where the Beatles fit into British comedy history -- the comedic influences on the Fabs (Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers, Peter Cook, 1950s light entertainment, etc.), George Martin as a comedy record producer, their own non-musical comedic efforts (radio, television, film), and the comedy acts (both musical and comedic) that the Fabs influenced (the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Mike McGear, Monty Python, the Rutles). The ethos of the book can probably best be summed up in this Neil Innes quote about George Harrison from Mojo in 2006, in a piece on the Monty Python records: "He once said that the Beatles, the Pythons, and the Rutles should all get together for one big concert. He thought the spirit of the Beatles had been passed on to Python." Fab Fools situates the Beatles -- as four performers more than as a musical group -- within that comedy continuum.
It has a wider focus than most Beatles books do. It starts in the 1940s and carries on through Richard Curtis' Yesterday (which I didn't especially like), so unlike a lot of Beatles books this one doesn't stop when Let It Be comes out in May 1970 because John, Paul, George, and Ringo didn't stop being funny then. I skipped ahead to the Rutles material in the book, which is well written and handled well. There are a couple of things I quibble with and one notable absence in what I've read (a mention of Eric Idle reprising his Rutles character for CBS's Grammy Salute to the Beatles in 2014 wouldn't have been out of place), but all in all it's insightful and provides a completely new look at the Beatles by looking beyond the music. I'd say this is a worthy addition in my library. It tells a story that Mark Lewisohn, Bob Spitz, Philip Norman, Peter Doggett, and Ian MacDonald didn't tell in their books on the band.
The further adventures of Captain Blood by Rafael Sabitini
I'm just finished The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, the first book in his Thursday Next series.
The series is set in a parallel 1985 where England is a republic under President George Formby, the Crimean War is entering its 132nd year, genetic engineering has seen the reintroduction of the dodo and mammoth to society (although ducks are now sadly extinct) and, most importantly, literature is the most important and popular form of entertainment in the world.
Thursday herself is an officer in the Special Operations Network. Specifically, SO-27: Literary Detectives. Their role is to police all matters relating to books - mostly dealing with forged and stolen manuscripts, bootleg publishing rings and other crimes against literature.
A fantastic read for anyone who enjoys the works of Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett or Robert Rankin. The book has a lightness of touch and tone that will keep you guessing and giggling all the way through.
And who doesn't love a dodo named Pickwick, who communicates only in soft "plock plock" noises?
The Count of Montie Crisco by Alexandre Dumas
Love Jasper Fforde! I highly recommend his other books.
Finished A Contest of Principles. Then, since it had come up a few times in discussion, I've started re-reading Assignment: Eternity. I'd completely forgotten that it starts with Spock being assassinated.
I finished a reread of Star Wars: Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn. As before, this one has its bright spots but does not live up to its full potential. It had just a bit too much going on during the final day for my taste. I did appreciate the nod to the Indiana Jones series this time around in Chapter 23.
I have just started Murder with Honey Ham Biscuits by A.L. Herbert. Mahalia and her outrageous cousin have been asked to be part of a show that is a lot like Master Chef. I've liked the series so far, and the beginning is promising.
Tonight I am going to start with the last Expense novel untill the new comes out next year, Tiamat's Wrath
Started on Defender of the Imperium (By Sandy Mitchell) during my lunch break.
That book absolutely knocked me on my ass, in the best of ways. Enjoy.
Latest episode of the Positively Trek Book Club is up: Positively Trek 70: DS9: Too Long a Sacrifice, in which Bruce and I look at all four issues of the miniseries from IDW by Scott & David Tipton, with art by Greg Scott. Hope you enjoy it!
Recently finished Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh (loved it - it helped a lot with some feelings of depression I've been having lately as an added benefit), and currently reading Spock Must Die! by James Blish for the first time.
I'm looking forward to listening to your discussion about Too long a sacrifice.
(Copy of review I just made on GoodReads and also on my personal Facebook page.)
I finished reading Marc Cushman’s These Are the Voyages: Gene Roddenberry and Star Trek in the 1970s Volume 2 (1975-1977) (which was just released this past summer), checked out from the public library. As the title says, this is volume two of a three-volume series covering the works of Roddenberry (and the history of Star Trek) over the course of the 1970s, the ten year period between the cancellation of the original “Star Trek” television series (1966-1969) and the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).
Cushman previously released three volumes simply titled These Are the Voyages: TOS, covering the original television series, season one being covered in volume one, season two in volume two, and season three in volume three.
I really liked the first volume in Cushman’s 1970s trilogy (his original intent had been to cover the 1970s in just two books but then found enough material to make it three) as it covered a lot of Roddenberry’s lesser covered projects such as the making of the film Pretty Maids All in a Row and his pilot films for “Genesis II”, “The Questor Tapes”, “Planet Earth”, and “Strange New World”, as well as the development and production of the 1973-1974 “Star Trek: The Animated Series”, plus the sudden surge of Star Trek’s popularity when it went into nationwide syndicated reruns and the start of the Star Trek conventions.
That was all in volume one (1970-1974). This second volume covering 1975-1977 is more Star Trek heavy as it follows Paramount’s waffling back and forth over whether to bring Star Trek back as a movie, a made-for-tv movie, or as another tv series. Roddenberry and the others hired to produce these projects went through multiple story outline approvals and script rewrites, only to keep having that particular project shelved in favor of a different one.
There was Roddenberry’s “The God Thing” movie script that was being developed from spring to summer of 1975, followed by scripts submitted by various other writers at Paramount’s request from August to December 1975. Roddenberry tried again (along with co-writer Jon Povill) in 1976 with a time travel/altered history storyline. Various other movie script false starts followed in rapid succession (including the Allan Scott and Chris Bryant “Planet of the Titans” script).
Interspersed with all of this are chapters on what all was happening with “Trekmania” at the time: the Star Trek conventions, the various Star Trek books and comic books released during this time, the opening of an all Star Trek retail store in New York City called the Galactic Trading Post, parodies of Star Trek like the one on “Saturday Night Live”, and also information about the various stars of the original Star Trek during this period, what film and television work they were getting as well as comments made in interviews at the time regarding if Star Trek would be returning and if they would be part of it if it did.
There are a few non Star Trek projects discussed in this volume, another pilot film of Roddenberry’s titled “Spectre” (this one a horror themed film timed to take advantage of a brief upsurge in interest in horror and the paranormal, ala “Kolchak: The Night Stalker”; the “Spectre” was actually shot starring Robert Culp and Gig Young and aired as a TV movie of the week but did not go to series because Culp turned in down) and the truly odd situation of Roddenberry being hired to write a feature length screenplay (titled “The Nine”) for a “secret organization” named “Lab-9” which claimed to have made contact with extraterrestrials via channelers and astral meditation. Roddenberry also developed another series proposal, “Battleground: Earth”, for 20th Century Fox, which didn’t get made but which much later on (after Roddenberry’s death) was turned into the “Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict” series.
The entire second half of this second volume is centered around “Star Trek: Phase II”, Paramount’s planned revival of Star Trek as a television series which would be the centerpiece of a brand new “Paramount TV Service” (a three-hour block of programming that Paramount would sell to independent television stations, the first hour being the new Star Trek series and the other two hours being original made-for-tv movies).
Now, there have been other books covering “Star Trek: Phase II” (including the excellent Star Trek: Phase II: The Making of the Lost Series by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens (1997)). So, I’m not going to go into much about “Phase II” here. Those already knowledgeable about Star Trek in the 1970s already know that after a year of development, including the purchasing of stories and scripts for up to sixteen episodes, Paramount then changed their minds yet once again, cancelling their plans for the Paramount TV Service and for “Star Trek: Phase II” as a television series in favor of doing Star Trek: The Motion Picture instead.
Cushman covers “Phase II” in his typical in depth manner, just as he did in his previous These Are the Voyages books. However, I must admit that for the first time I found myself pushing myself through parts of the book. Part of it may be simply because I was already pretty familiar with a lot of the “Phase II” stuff. However, I was not as familiar with the “God Thing”, “Planet of the Titans”, and other scripts, yet I still found that sections a bit hard to get through. I think it’s because there wasn’t much actual film or tv production going on on these chapters (or during this period of Roddenberry’s career), instead mostly pre-production work. I found reading about the various executives at Paramount and the producers and story editors working with Roddenberry (and especially the “Trekmania” chapters) to be of more interest frankly than reading long summaries of various story outlines and screenplay drafts for the aborted Star Trek films and “Phase II” episodes”. What was so interesting to me in the first three These Are the Voyages: TOS volumes about the original television series, the detailed accounts of all three phases, preproduction, production, and postproduction/reception of each and every episode, are by necessity missing here because very little of Roddenberry’s projects got past the scripts phase (until Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which will be covered in volume three).
The other thing that I found a bit disconcerting (and even at times outright annoying) was Cushman’s increasing tendency to step in to defend Roddenberry when others had negative comments about him or their experiences working with him, and also at times editorializing regarding *his* opinion of certain screenplay drafts and story outlines. At one point, Cushman says, “Comedy is subjective and this story [a story outline written by Theodore Sturgeon for “Phase II” titled “Cassandra” that Sturgeon apparently never submitted a finished script draft of] was intended to be humorous, so we’ll let you decide whether it works or not”. I may simply be forgetting but I don’t remember Cushman editorializing like this or using “we” like this in the first three These Are the Voyages: TOS books, or even very much in the 1970s volume one. This seems to me to be a shift in tone with this volume, one I don’t particularly care for as it takes me out of the more objective “this is everything that was happening at the time” mindset to “this is how Marc Cushman feels about it”.
That said, I did still enjoy much of this massive 600 plus page long book and I imagine that anyone who has already read the previous These Are the Voyages books will feel likewise. I give this a three out of four stars on GoodReads.
Cushman’s third volume covering 1978-1980 and the making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture came out either at the same time or immediately after volume two, so it’s already out, too. I’ve requested that my local public library try to order it as well, just as I did for volume two. (The Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library Cooperative is awesome at trying to get books that they don’t already have upon request. That’s how they added most of the These Are the Voyages books to their collection, upon my requesting them to, although I did already also have the first three TOS books as ebooks purchased from Amazon.)
I look forward to reading it should they be able to get it in, even though the making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture is a subject I have already read quite a bit about in other books (including another that I’m in the middle of reading right now, Return to Tomorrow: The Filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture by Preston Neal Jones).
20 – BLITZCAT by Robert Westall
This is a really good one, mostly. The titular cat is essentially the framing device for a portmanteau of affecting stories of people’s lives in 1940 and ’41. Her journey to find her one true person brings her into the lives of various people from wartime widows to carters to a bomber crew… They’re all really good, with just the right balance of threat, thrills, adventure, tragedy, humour, and feline frolics.
I’m going to spoiler it a bit now, in two ways. First, if you’re anything like me, you might want to know in advance whether the cat lives or dies at the end, as is often the case with animal themed human interest stories, before really deciding whether to read it. So, spoiler, she survives for a happy ending. Secondly, between pages 181 and 220 or so, cat and book totally jump the shark, when the cat gets to go on raids over Germany, shoot down enemy planes, get shot down, and make her way home by means of resistance guides into Portugal. Seriously.
Now, cats have made long journeys home, bomber crews did illicitly take mascots with them, etc, but this whole sequence is much more rushed than the other stories, and feels tonally more like something the author was either pressured into doing, or that he got to it when a hard wordcount limit was getting close.
Overall, though, it’s a great read, just so well pitched and affecting, and I’m totally amazed there hasn’t been a movie or TV series. In fact I think this now becomes the one story that I’d more than anything love to find a way to become a film/TV maker to script and direct. But I’d have to either drop or extend, and certainly tweak, that pp181-220 section.
Father of Frankenstein by Christopher Bram, a novel about the last days of film director James Whale. Filmed as Gods and Monsters with Ian McKellan and Brendan Fraser.
Really enjoying it so far.
I finished Star Wars: Rebel Rising, which was really good, last night and started Sandstorm by James Rollins, the kind of first book in his Sigma Force series. I say kind of because it came out before it was a series, and while it introduces the Sigma Force organization and one of the character, they are not the focus of the book. I've actually read the 3rd, 4th, and 6th books in the series, but I've decided to go back and read the whole thing from the beginning. I have read part of 5, but while I was reading that one 6 came out, and it dealt with an ongoing arc that 5 was not part of, so I skipped 5 and jumped into 6 instead. I kind of regretted it though, because it turned out some of the events in 5 did impact 6, but they were minor enough I kept going with 6.
Separate names with a comma.